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UK’s Labour roiled by feud over anti-Semitism and Corbyn

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 18, 2020

Associated Press

LONDON — The leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party said Wednesday that he won’t readmit ex-Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn to the party’s parliamentary caucus, accusing Corbyn of weakening efforts to stamp out anti-Semitism.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said his predecessor had “undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism.”

Corbyn will continue to sit in Parliament, but as an independent lawmaker.

Labour has been grappling with allegations that anti-Semitism was allowed to fester under Corbyn, a long-time supporter of Palestinians and a critic of Israel who led the party for almost five years from 2015.

Corbyn was suspended from the party last month in the wake of a scathing report by Britain’s equalities watchdog. The Equality and Human Rights Commission said Labour officials had failed to stamp out anti-Semitism and committed “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.”

After the report was released, Corbyn accused opponents of exaggerating the problem for “political reasons” — a statement that got him suspended from the party.

On Tuesday, Corbyn issued a statement saying that concerns about anti-Semitism in Labour were not exaggerated, and the party must “never tolerate anti-Semitism or belittle concerns about it.” Later that day, Labour’s governing National Executive Committee voted to reinstate Corbyn, who has represented Labour in Parliament since 1983.

But Starmer said he was keeping Corbyn out of Labour’s parliamentary caucus. He said he was acting because “the (Labour Party) disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community.”

Starmer was elected in April to lead the party. He has vowed to stamp out prejudice and restore relations between the party and the Jewish community.

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